Actual Facts About Climate Change Even Deniers Can’t Argue

The Current Administration’s View on Climate Change

Climate change has been a battle back and forth between deniers and supporters of the sentiment for quite a few years now. The new administration in the White House has only brought this discussion at the forefront due to newly appointed EPA head Scott Pruitt, known denier, and Trump’s latest executive orders which target Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the “water rule.”

These plans respectively  targeted greenhouse gasses and planned to reduce emissions by about 1/3rd within the next decade, and regulatory power over waterways around the country.

The irony in all of this is that most of the research and facts you find on climate change, are actually provided by agencies funded by the federal government.

For example, in 2014 as reported by U.S. Government Accountability Office, $11.6 billion of the federal budget was authorized specifically towards climate research. What we essentially have is administrations paying billions of dollars only for our current administration to tell these agencies that they don’t believe them. Quite laughable when you actually think about it. While we won’t see figures for spending geared to climate change under the new administration for a few years, conveniently enough they will most likely be drastically cut by the Trump administration.

So what are the actual facts? Far to often do we see a Facebook battle between supporters and deniers, and while we admit they can be rather enjoyable to read, neither side seems to prevent any factual information on either side of the spectrum.  This may be shocking to many readers, but this actual required a very small investment of time to perform this thing called “research,” which seems to be a very rare concept for people, and even news sources nowadays.

Facts:

Atmospheric CO2 and Ice Ages

  • Deniers – Will tell you that ice ages are cyclical and they are bound to happen again as they have in history
    • Fact – Scientists have been able to take atmospheric CO2 samples from preserved ice cores. (essentially a frozen time capsule which maintain atmospheric levels)

      Credit: climate.nasa.gov
      Credit: climate.nasa.gov
    • While the research does show the cycles with this atmospheric CO2 peaking, (typically highs of 280-300 parts per million in each cycle) we are currently at 400 parts per million. This is 30% higher then any figure recorded dating back 500,000 years.
    • You do not need to be a stock broker to analyze the trend in this chart. Source- nasa.gov

Rising Sea Levels

  • Deniers – Rising sea levels can be explained by previous researchers failure to account for the movement of land up and down.
    • Facts– Rising sea levels are actually explained by 2 things, thermal expansion caused the rising ocean temperatures, and increased melting of land based ice like glaciers.
    • Sea Levels have risen about 7 inches in the last century. Sure it does not sound like a lot but importantly, the rate per year is up to 3.5mm. (1/8th inch)
    • National Ocean Service and Atmospheric Administration has this information, and also a nifty mapping tool about the rising levels here.
    • Oceans absorb much of the extra heat, with the average temperature on only the top 2,300 feet rising .3 degrees Farenheit this century.

Global Temperature Rise

  • Deniers – Global temperature also varies in cycles, similar to the ice age. As much as we all loved that 70 degree New England day in February last week, here are facts:globaltemp
    • Facts– One thing we are really good at is setting records. In 136 Years, 10 of the warmest years recorded were since the year 2000 with 2016 being the highest. Every year seems to break the record but unfortunately as far as we know the Guinness Book is not recording this one.
    • NASA also has a pretty eye-opening visualization chart that shows the warming from 1884 to 2016 here . For those completely illiterate or oblivious to facts, at least appreciate the fact the fancy chart goes from dark blue in 1884 (cold) to dark red (hot) 2016.
    • Deniers may claim that because this research only dates back 150 or so years, there isn’t enough information since there is no record of the temperatures from the last cyclical ice age. We are currently seeking to interview a human who owned a thermometer 8,000 years ago. In the mean time we are going to stick with researched facts and not speculation.

 

Melting Glaciers

  • Deniers – Glacier and ice sheets are going through natural changes
    • Facts – The word natural is probably the incorrect term here.  Research only goes back so far to tell us what “natural” actually is. The root cause of this  goes back to our rising sea levels and warming ocean temperatures.

      Credit: nasa.gov
      Credit: nasa.gov
    • In 2012 an ice sheet twice the size of Manhatten was shed in Greenland, and in 2015 another 5 square mile iceberg was calved.
    • The amount of ice that has been lost since 1900 is 9 gigatons. Yes that is 9 trillion tons. Yes that is the subtracted number of total amount lost minus the total amount gained through what actually is freezing.

Ocean Acidification

  • Deniers – Probably do not know what ocean acidification is.
    • Facts – Because as we said, the ocean much of the heat, and also CO2 from our industrial activities the actual molecules that make up the ocean are changing.
    • Signs of this damage can be shown from all of the recent problems and disease in the Great Barrier Reef, which can be a separate article in itself.
    • The amount of CO2 in the ocean is increasing by 2 billion tons per year, and at an increasing rate.
    • For active studies on ocean acidification and the increase in CO2 see Scripps Institution of Oceanography or PMEL Carbon Program

While these only scratch the surface of the potential problems and evidence that climate change is a real thing, it should be more then enough to present to deniers. The best part is you can present them with actual facts from programs that perform real research, that are funded by actual dollars.

To look further into where we found most of this research, and also for a list of agencies actively funded by climate change, you can check these sites out:

Government Accountability Office

NASA

NOAA

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for this good work. But let me point out a counterargument to your point #1, and then I’ll respond to it.

    COUNTERARGUMENT: “Climate change is produced by many things, like volcanic activity and changes in solar insolation. When these other factors cause Earth’s temperature to go up, why of course atmospheric CO2 increases because the oceans warm and CO2 is less soluble in warmer water. That’s why a soda opened at room temperature is prone to foam a lot!”

    RESPONSE: Recent cimate change, or more correctly “global warming,” has occurred too quickly for changes in solar insolation to be a factor. Furthermore, volcanic activity can’t explain the change. But atmospheric CO2 has increased by more than 40%. Consider this: solar insolation alone would produce an average surface temperature of -18 C, i.e., about 0 F, way too cold for our ecosystem to thrive. Actual surface temperature is between 14 and 15 C. Why? Because greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have warmed Earth, the most voluminous one being water vapor and the second most important one being CO2. It is simply impossible for such a large increase in CO2 over the past 100 years not to significantly affect Earth’s temperature. Furthermore, isotope analysis shows that the extra carbon in the atmosphere is “old,” coming from the burning of fossil fuels. It did not come from the ocean. Here’s something else to consider: if the extra CO2 in the atmosphere came from oceans warmed by other factors, the acidity of the oceans would be less. In fact, the acidity has increased because the CO2 which produces acetic acid came from somewhere else and added to what was there. It came from the burning of fossil fuels. Precious coral reefs are being destroyed by this increasing acidity, just one of the many deleterious effects from human-produced global warming.

    • This is a great comment! I like how you provided a counter, followed by an additional counter-argument. The end really ties in with our acidification and damage to reefs which is becoming more prevalent the worse it gets.

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